Laser Beam Welding is a fusion welding process in which two metal pieces are joined together by the use of laser. The laser beams are focused to the cavity between the two metal pieces to be joined. The laser beams have enough energy and when it strikes the metal pieces produces heat that melts the material from the two metal pieces and fills the cavity. After cooling a strong weld is formed between the two pieces.
It is a very efficient welding process and can be automated with robotics machinery easily. This welding technique is mostly used in automotive industry.
Laser beam welding is a technique in manufacturing whereby two or more pieces of material (usually metal) are joined by together through use of a laser beam. Laser stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It is a non-contact process that requires access to the weld zone from one side of the parts being welded.
Gas Laser use a mixture of gases such as helium and nitrogen. There are also CO2 or carbon dioxide lasers. These lasers use a low-current, high-voltage power source to excite the gas mixture using a lasing medium. Operate in a pulsed or continuous mode.
Carbon dioxide lasers use a mixture of high purity carbon dioxide with helium and nitrogen as the lasing medium. CO2 lasers are also used in dual beam laser welding where the beam is split into two equal power beams.
Nd:YAG lasers can operate in both pulsed and continuous mode, but the other types are limited to pulsed mode. The original and still popular solid-state design is a single crystal shaped as a rod approximately 20 mm in diameter and 200 mm long, and the ends are ground flat. This rod is surrounded by a flash tube containing xenon or krypton. When flashed, a pulse of light lasting about two milliseconds is emitted by the laser.
Nd:YAG laser outputs between 0.04–6,000 W. To deliver the laser beam to the weld area, fiber optics are usually employed.
Ruby laser is a solid-state laser that uses a synthetic ruby crystal as its gain medium. Ruby lasers produce pulses of coherent visible light at a wavelength of 694.3 nm, which is a deep red color. Typical ruby laser pulse lengths are on the order of a millisecond.
A ruby laser most often consists of a ruby rod that must be pumped with very high energy, usually from a flashtube, to achieve a population inversion. The rod is often placed between two mirrors, forming an optical cavity, which oscillate the light produced by the ruby's fluorescence, causing stimulated emission.
Fiber laser is a laser in which the active gain medium is an optical fiber doped with rare-earth elements. Fiber laser can be developed on the basis of fiber amplifier: under the action of pump light, the fiber is easy to form a high power density, causing the laser level of the laser working material "particle number inversion", when the appropriate addition of positive feedback loop (to form a resonator) can form laser oscillation output.
In fiber lasers, the main medium is the optical fiber itself. They are capable of power up to 50 kW and are increasingly being used for robotic industrial welding.
- First the setup of welding machine at the desired location (in between the two metal pieces to be joined) is done.
- After setup, a high voltage power supply is applied on the laser machine. This starts the flash lamps of the machine and it emits light photons. The energy of the light photon is absorbed by the atoms of ruby crystal and electrons get excited to their higher energy level. When they return back to their ground state (lower Energy state) they emit a photon of light. This light photon again stimulates the excited electrons of the atom and produces two photons. This process keeps continue and we get a concentrated laser beam.
- This high concentrated laser beam is focused to the desired location for the welding of the multiple pieces together. Lens are used to focus the laser to the area where welding is needed. CAM is used to control the motion of the laser and workpiece table during the welding process.
- As the laser beam strikes the cavity between the two metal pieces to be joined, it melts the base metal from both the pieces and fuses them together. After solidification we get a strong weld.
- Automotive manufacturing
- fiber laser welding in shipbuilding and marine engineering
- Aircraft manufacturing
- It produces high weld quality.
- LBW can be easily automated with robotic machinery for large volume production.
- No electrode is required.
- No tool wears because it is a non-contact process.
- The time taken for welding thick section is reduced.
- It is capable of welding in those areas which is not easily accessible.
- It has the ability to weld metals with dissimilar physical properties.
- It can be weld through air and no vacuum is required.
- X – Ray shielding is not required as it does not produce any X-Rays.
- It can be focused on small areas for welding. This is because of its narrower beam of high energy.
- Wide variety of materials can be welded by using laser beam welding.
- It produces weld of aspect ratio (i.e. depth to width ratio) of 10:1.
- Initial cost is high. The equipment used in LBW has high cost.
- High maintenance cost.
- Due to rapid rate of cooling, cracks may be produced in some metals.
- High skilled labour is required to operate LBW.
- The welding thickness is limited to 19 mm.
- The energy conversion efficiency in LBW is very low. It is usually below 10 %.
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